Hospitals losing out as doctors quit over pay split
Hospital consultants who are in full-time posts here are now resigning on a monthly basis and taking up jobs abroad, a doctors' conference was told.
Around one to two a month are uprooting and leaving in a trend that was previously not seen here, said Dr Peadar Gilligan, head of the consultant's group in the Irish Medical Organisation.
He said doctors who are in their 30s and 40s are leaving jobs behind in a range of areas including psychiatry, surgery and medicine.
"When I took up my post it was almost unheard of for a consultant to resign," he revealed at the IMO's annual meeting.
He said moves are now under way to find out through "exit interviews" the reasons why they are leaving.
However, he pointed out many doctors are very unhappy with the difference in pay scales between those hired before and after 2012.
Consultants employed here after that date earn 30pc less - that is three times the cut imposed on other public sector grades such as gardaí, he said.
"It has led to a huge sense of unfairness," he added.
There are around 370 posts for consultants which are currently not filled and some of these have been open for a year without attracting applicants.
The knock-on effect is a rise in waiting lists and theatre closures, the meeting was told.
In many cases the hospitals are having to hire agency and locum staff who are costing a premium.
The conference also heard calls for GPs in disadvantaged urban and rural areas to be paid a special allowance to attract them to posts. Dr Jerry Cowley, a Mayo GP, said that doctors in rural areas are now subsidising house calls because of the abolition of a distance allowance.
Meanwhile, the new president of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Ann Hogan, compared the condition of the health services to a patient with chronic illness.
"The health services isn't suffering from a temporary illness…it is suffering from a long-term, persistent and severely debilitating illness caused by under-resourcing over decades, and like any patient with chronic illness, the outlook is very difficult," she said.
Dr Hogan, who is a public health specialist, said the drop in take-up of the vaccine to protect against cervical cancer is putting the health of women at risk. It was the victim of "fake claims".